Wallace Hall residents express concerns over grad student housing


Jordan Maurice

Wallace and Wilson residence halls are located close to Campustown.

Ryan Pattee

As graduate students plan to move into Wallace Hall, current undergrad students have expressed concern about the future of the residence hall.

On April 1, the Iowa State Daily reported that Wallace Hall would once again be opening its doors to graduate students. Wallace Hall was home to graduate students in 2005, but went back to housing undergraduates when enrollment increased. Thirteen years later, the residence hall and its 300 single rooms will once again be open to graduate students.

While this change is definite, residents currently living at Wallace Hall have expressed concerns about this change and possible future of the residence hall when the change comes into effect. 

According to Lilah Mares, president of Wallace and Wilson Hall council, current students were not told of these changes until only a week before Director of Residence Pete Englin came to meet them.

“We didn’t hear about it until after registration had opened up when people recontracted around February and March,” Mares said. “It threw a lot of us off.”

According to many of the hall council members, the decision to have graduate students housed in Wallace seemed to come out of nowhere. Genevieve Robinson, the treasurer on the council, talked about the confusion when Englin came to talk to current residents.

“Pete talked about how housing for graduates were in high demand, but when we asked about the details, statistics were not provided,” Robinson said. “It almost seemed like a whimsical decision, but [he] claimed that a building just for grads was in high demand.”

Robinson also said that she changed her living arrangement as a result of this decision.

“I recontracted for a single in Wallace,” Robinson said. “I can’t afford a single normally and I wanted to stay in Towers as well as on my floor, and this ended up being the only way for me to do that.”

The students are not against graduate students having a place to live but are frustrated with the lack of communication between the Department of Residence and current students living at Wallace. 

“It makes sense going to the way it is, I suppose it would have been nice if we had more of a say in it, but really the decision is coming from a lot of higher-ups,” said Bryan Friestad, a member on the council. 

Maeve McGuire also agreed with Friestad talking about how if the Department of Residence had been more transparent, they would not be as upset with the decision.

“If they had sent out [a] clear email and been honest with us, I would be more comfortable,” McGuire said. “It seemed like after we re-contracted in AccessPlus, it changed, got an email from Pete and then we were scrambling for re-contracting again.”

One significant issue that came to the residents’ attention was the concern over what might happen to the culture of Wallace when graduate students come in.

Another concern is in relation to Towers’ international and low-income students. With Wallace and Wilson receiving renovations as well as the addition of super singles, the price of living at Wallace has gone up and hall council members have also expressed concern about this. 

“We are extremely disappointed,” McGuire said. “How are our low-income freshmen supposed to live here with the super singles coming into Wilson? How can they afford it now that prices are raising?”

While incoming freshman will not be living in Wallace as of next year, concern stems from the age gap between undergraduate and graduate students.

Students are unsure how grad students will interact with a younger community advisor if they live in Wallace. A community advisor’s role is to be an older student for incoming freshman.

“I feel like the main concern is the community,” McGuire said. “I feel like we have a strong pride because we’re stuck out here with each other, but changing with students (without) incentive to get involved makes us worry that it will be gone.”